Last Impressions 44: The Ridiculousness of Denial


Weaponized ridiculousness of political rhetoric about taxes, abortion, and Donald Trump.

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  • guest

    No mention of Sen. Kettle again? Does the Republican party becoming such a haven for those of low moral character bother you? Why do you think that they are so attracted?

    • Mario

      That’s not fair, he may not have mentioned Kettle (who I hope is innocent) by name, but Justin has been perfectly clear that he thinks even the slightest hint of a policy advantage is enough to allow him to overlook literally anything else. Don’t call it tribalism though.

      • Justin Katz

        That’s simply not true. What I’ve written is that objections to particular politicians on moral grounds is not necessarily enough to throw away policy advantages.

        • Mario

          Do you see how this sounds like situational morality to anyone who isn’t already submerged in Trump sludge? Like when pro-democracy demonstrations were breaking out in the middle east and Obama cheered them on, but suddenly started equivocating when it came to Egypt and Iran? All of the old rules get tossed out to protect Trump, and people like me are made to feel crazy for simply believing the same things we thought two years ago.

          You used to agree with me. We were both right.

          What I don’t see is this level of knee-jerk defense for non-Trumpy Republicans, because, for all of the criticism you have for leftists, far more of the Trumpland conversation is about undermining the normal right and the most moderate of news outlets. It was part of the old Steve Bannon playbook — destroy the center to keep things polarized because people are easier to control that way.

          What really galls is that, with the exception of his antipathy for Mexicans, Trump doesn’t actually believe in any of the policies his administration is promoting, which is what makes it so dangerous to support him (unless, as I suspect, many of his followers don’t really care about those anymore either, if they ever did). So if the left were successful in undermining his Presidency, the best that they could achieve would be to replace him with Pence, someone who actually does believe in the old Republican agenda. But somehow I’m supposed to think that switching in Pence for Trump would be a bad thing? How does that work?

          Let me guess — in this case it’s the principle that matters, even if my preferred policies have to suffer. Funny how it always works that way, no?

          So let me ask, would you support a primary challenger?

          • Justin Katz

            1. I can see how it would seem like situational morality if one oversimplifies. Sometimes objections to particular politicians on moral grounds are enough to throw away policy advantages. In this case, I don’t think they are, in part because of the lines Trump has skirted and in part because of the current alternative. These aren’t easy judgment calls because we’re having to wade through sludge no matter what we do.

            2. For the record, I’ve been skeptical about “the most moderate of news outlets” for a long, long time.

            3. I’d be thrilled to switch out Pence for Trump if we were more like a corporate board electing a new CEO. The problem is that we’re working within a representative democracy, and we don’t get to make those sorts of decisions. Unless he decides he just doesn’t want to deal with it anymore and resigns, I don’t see any way to make the switch that wouldn’t cause cataclysmic disruption of our republic.

            4. With regard to a primary challenge, I think it’s way too early to be offering judgment on that. Donald Trump could change in many ways between now and then, we have to see how he does actually governing (character notwithstanding), we have to judge the stakes at the time, and we’d have to see who the alternatives in the primary and general elections would be.

          • Mario

            This is exactly the same sort of reasoning we had to deal with in the primary. “Sure, Trump is an imperfect messenger, but unless you can give me a flawless substitute, I’ll have to go with Trump.” He always gets a free pass. He’s always judged on a lower standard. And this is why the left falls back on calling Trump supporters racist, it’s because no other explanation makes sense. There are only three things that you get from Trump that you probably won’t find with a generic Republican — sleaze, minor celebrity status, and insulting minorities. Which one explains the automatic, excessive deference he receives? Because I’m at a loss.

          • Justin Katz

            That’s not so in my case. I supported everybody but during the primaries and had that sinking feeling when he won the field. I barely voted for Trump, but decided not voting for president wasn’t a strong enough signal against Hillary Clinton.

    • Justin Katz

      I rarely comment on that sort of thing when it seems to be a personal matter unrelated to governance. In this case, we don’t even have details about the alleged crimes.

      • guest

        Now we do have “details about the alleged crimes” and they do relate to governance. It’s tough to take your position seriously when you are a paid political operative ignoring the biggest (local) political story of the year.

        • Justin Katz

          We have details about the ex-girlfriend picture, and if they’re true, it was profoundly gross of Kettle and his friend. Regarding the other story, we really don’t have details; we have an unspecified accusation.

          As for this being the biggest political story of the year… give me a break. The personal foibles of a relatively minor character in an inconsequential contingent of a powerless political party is nowhere near that substantial.

          But to be clear, I’m a policy guy. Politics intersect with that, but I’ve not commented on a number of scandals over the years, involving both parties, because they didn’t intersect with my interests.